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Engaging Methuen Readers


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BYO Library!

Ever seen a Little Free Library? They’re the adorable tiny houses full of books that have been popping up on street corners and in front of houses for the last decade. Now, libraries are starting to adopt them. In case you want to get ahead of the trend, here are some books that will show you how to build and place your own free library exchange.

 

download (1)The Little Free Library Book by Margaret Aldrich

Obviously, this is the best book for starting your LFL. It’s got a description of that they are and what they do, as well as some construction plans.

 

There’s not much difference between a big birdhouse and a mini-library. This book will teach you how to build a birdhouse, but you may as well turn it into a book house!

 

51NDwMxRN8L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Do you feel weird asking people to put books into your itty bitty library for free? Time to get in the mood and get hip with the fine art of saying “please!” In case you’re wondering, then yes, this is that Amanda Palmer.

 

 


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Nevins Book Club-Approved LGBTQ Reads

Did you know that the Nevins Memorial Library has an LGBTQ book club? It’s true! Though the club is off for the summer, it meets at 7:00pm every second Thursday of the month. This year, these are the books that we read.

51qgsn2wkwlThen Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan & Lisa Dickey       

There’s no better way to capture the drama of the marriage equality movement than in the words of one of the lawyers who fought it. Roberta Kaplan was the attorney for United States v. Windsor, the case that finally defeated DOMA and allowed same-sex couples to legally marry.

 

 

220px-aristotle_and_dante_discover_the_secrets_of_the_universe_coverAristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe  by Benjamin Alire Saenz                                 

Friendship blossoms in the unlikeliest of places – even between a nerd and a jock. But as Aristotle and Dante’s friendship becomes deeper, they may both have to face something important about their identities.

 

onthemove-by-oliversacksOn the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks was more than just a groundbreaking neuroscientist. Author, bodybuilder, motorcyclist, traveler, and drug addict, this complicated man tells his own story at last.

 

 

51xb0lb0mml-_sx322_bo1204203200_Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

The Dark Ages was a bad time to be alive in general, and worse if you were a woman. But one girl dared to take on the system through stealth, secretly becoming a priest and eventually taking on the robes of the papacy itself.

 

 

51ekup0xjwl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Tales of the City  by Armistead Maupin

Many people have seen the TV adaptation of Tales of the City, but reading it is another experience entirely. This long-running series, which Maupin famously directed according to the wishes of the readers of his daily serial, is a snapshot of LGBTQ life in 1970s San Francisco.

 

72003Angels in America by Tony Kushner

If Tales of the City is a snapshot of 1970s LGBTQ life, then Angels in America must stand for what came in the next decade. As AIDS ravaged the gay community, forsaken angels call upon one afflicted man to spread a new message to humanity.

 

 

downloadBeijing Comrades  by Bei Tong   

Tumultuous and steamy, this book is largely a mystery in itself. Who wrote it? Was the author a man or a woman, gay or straight, ally or voyeur? No matter what the truth may be, this depiction of gay life in modern China is an intense, fascinating take on a culture in flux.

 

14649555The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

When Cam’s parents die, she is perversely relieved…relieved that they never had to find out that she had kissed a girl. Then her holy roller aunt comes to town, and life gets *really* complicated.

 


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Pairing books and music

There are lots of good articles out there pairing books and music. The Guardian has one. So do BookRiot and Flavorwire. But now we have one of our own, and it’s the best!

 

The Stand by Stephen King / “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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Stephen King is a notorious music aficionado, and he often adds soundtracks to his books in the form of music within the story. However, even when he doesn’t, his dark, evocative tales of terror inspire certain moods. The Stand is the tale of a plague and the supernatural threat that follows in the form of Randall Flagg, embodiment of all human evil. Flagg is a master at convincing mortals to bargain away their souls in exchange for luxuries or security, and as such, strongly evokes the haunting melody “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Listen and tremble.

 

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies

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“Where Is My Mind” is best known for being the theme song to Fight Club, the nineties movie about men fighting masculinity by fighting other men and…yeah, it kind of breaks down once you start to think about it. Personally, I think it would have been a much better pairing with The Bell Jar, where Plath’s protagonist struggles against her own looming insanity.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood / “Evelyn” by Kim Tillman and Silent Film

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Chronicling both the aftermath of a disaster and a twisted love triangle involving genetic engineering, Oryx and Crake will rock you a little. What does it mean to be human when humanity can build itself better? Can we engineer away our baser urges and destructive instincts? Protagonist Crake thinks so, but, of course, the reader – and Kim Tillman – may be less optimistic by the end.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon / “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay

history-of-the-decline-and-fa

Most people don’t read Decline these days unless they have to for a class, and that’s a shame. There’s a reason it’s a classic! Rome was the original blueprint for Western society, and we basically still follow their model. Reading about it can be…well, a little spooky. “Viva la Vida” could broadly apply to French, British, or American imperial ambitions, but it all comes down to Rome in the end.

 

 

 

 

 


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New Symphony Catalog: Music to Our Ears!

When you think of a symphony, an auditory extravaganza probably rises to the top of your mind. Personally, I think of Schubert’s 8th Unfinished Symphony and Megadeth’s haunting Symphony of Destruction. Coincidentally, those are both pieces of music that you’ll be able to order through our new Online Public Access Catalog, which is also called Symphony, later this month.

What’s a catalog and why do you have one?

A catalog is a list of all the items that our library system, the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (or MVLC for short) lends. Every time you look up a book on our website, you’re accessing our catalog. Unlike other lists, a library catalog includes a lot of detail about each entry, including title, author, subject, and location information. Libraries use these to keep track of, and check out, their items.

Why are you changing to a new catalog?

That’s a great question, reader! Well, until now we’ve used a catalog system called Evergreen. This was an open source system, meaning that we didn’t pay a company to engineer it for us, but rather used a free system that had been created by library employees. Our group of affiliated libraries, which is called the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC,) installed this system and hired people to fine-tune and maintain it about five years ago.

Evergreen worked pretty well, but there were some important things that it couldn’t do. For example, if you spelled something wrong while searching the catalog, Evergreen wasn’t smart enough to correct you. Instead of knowing that “Alise in Wonderland” was supposed to be “Alice in Wonderland,” it would just search for the incorrect entry and that would be that. Symphony is a lot smarter. If you make a mistake while you’re searching, the new catalog will catch it. Symphony will also tie in to Google results so that you’ll see library books pop up next to Amazon results when you’re looking for something to read on the Internet.

There are a lot of other neat things that Symphony will do, although most of the changes will only impact librarians. The biggest change you’ll see is that your service will get faster and more efficient.

What will happen to the links in this blog?

Sadly, the links in our old blog posts won’t translate to the new catalog. Happily, the new catalog website will be much easier to search.

What about my holds?

They’ll still be there!

What about my fines?

They’ll be there too.

Will there be any interruption of service?

Currently, our member libraries can’t order or receive any items through the Commonwealth Catalog, our statewide library catalog. This service will resume on May 22.

Between May 15th and May 17th, the library will still be checking out books, but there are a few things that won’t happen:

  • You won’t accrue fines. Hooray!
  • Holds won’t come in. Unfortunately, this is just part of the process of switching to a new catalog. They should arrive after the 17th just like normal.
  • New patrons will have to wait and register library cards on the 17th.
  • Dinosaurs will not return to rule the Earth. This is just nuts. I wish people would stop asking me about the dinosaurs. I assure you: they’re not coming back.

Anything else I need to know?

Just that change is good, and this change is going to be fantastic. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (978)686-4080. We’re ready to answer all your questions during and after this switchover.

Thanks for sticking with us!


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New from Nevins: The Internet in a Box

So you know about the telescope. And the Binge Boxes. And the charging cables. What, you may be asking, will the library lend next? How will they top a telescope? Cake decorating supplies? Puppies? Actual money?

That’s small potatoes. Any library can do that stuff. We here at Methuen have our eyes on the prize. Fellow humans, I humbly present…the Internet!

 

Yup, that’s what it looks like. The whole entire Internet. Cute, right?

Actually, that’s not the whole Internet. I was just kidding! That’s just free, unfettered wifi access to the whole Internet that you can use without additional charges to your data plan or account. It has a range of about 50 feet and a battery life of several days.

If you have a Methuen library card, you can borrow this piece of sliced gold for three weeks. Yes, three. Whole. Weeks. If you’re not sure what to do with this modern phenomenon, then we have just a few ideas for you.

Go on a picnic

389286No longer are your World of Wizardcraft tournaments limited to the indoors. Get your geek on out in the real world! Whether you’re working, playing, or just don’t want to burn up your data plan out in nature, your solution is borrow a hotspot.

Just don’t forget that Interneting with the birds and the sunshine is hard work. You’ll work up an appetite for sure! While you’re in getting your hotspot, grab a copy of John Madden’s classic tailgating cookbook to help you prepare.

See the world country

From sea to shining sea, the hotspot will transport you to the world of the Internet. Take it1649533
to the Wild West or Las Vegas! Take it on the road and run your streaming music app on it. Or carry it in your pocket and check your map data-free as you explore your vacation destination.

There is, alas, one caveat: the hotspot will only work within the U.S. where there is T-Mobile coverage. Don’t worry. There are other ways to have fun while you see the world.

Make a statement

1588286Whether you’re selling Girl Scout cookies or peacefully presenting your opinion in the company of a thousand of your closest friends, a little wifi goes a long way. At Town Hall meetings, at farmshare coops, and at popup art demonstrations, our hotspot will be your buddy. Go ahead and livetweet that event!

While you’re at it, take inspiration from our online collection. You can download I am Malala through OverDrive, our digital book downloading service.

Be the life of the party

Ever host an event at a venue that doesn’t have wifi? If you have, then you know the misery that can ensue. You also may know the pain of hosting a neighborhood get-together and handing your home wifi password out to just one person who really, really 396450needs it. The next thing you know, you’re sharing your wifi with everyone.

Don’t just borrow a wifi hotspot for situations like these. Present it with etiquette fit for the 21st century. This is one situation where using the Internet to read up on something probably won’t work. Because, y’know, it’s the Internet. (If you disagree, by all means, please comment below. Don’t hold back!) If manners maketh man, then Miss Manners maketh a successful party.


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Eyes on the Sky

Did you know that Nevins Library is now loaning a telescope kit? It’s true! We’re loaning a giant box of optical wonder complete with a real live telescope, an instruction book, a pair of binoculars, and a couple of pillows in case you get tired. Stargazing does tend to happen quite late at night.

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The telescope, snugly nestled in its bin, waiting for you to borrow it

There’s a wait list right now, but the sooner you get on it, the sooner you can get your star

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The telescope, ready to stargaze

fix. Contact us about that. Meanwhile, here are a few things you can look for when you turn your gaze to the heavens above us. Or, since we’re really just riding a tiny sphere that is screaming pell mell through the endless void of space, the heavens that are all around us. All the time. Even when we can’t see them through the comforting blue illusion that is our sky.

Enjoy!

Constellations

In the olden days, before TV, people still wanted to watch “Adventure Time” all night. That’s when we first cast our eyes starward and made up awesome stories about all the rad dudes and dudettes who lived in the sky. This was, like, the nineties. We didn’t know any better.

1068424Today, we still look at constellations because sometimes Netflix is slow. Start with Robin Scagell and David Frydman’s Stargazing with Binoculars, your all-in-one guide to observing the universe from an ocularly enhanced perspective. Of course, for more lore about the stars themselves, you might want to check out Mike Lynch’s Minnesota Star Watch, a vividly colorful book that will give you a thing or two to look at in the night sky.

Planets

The word “planet” originally meant “wanderer.” That’s because, while stars always appear to be in the same positions relative to one another night after night, the planets zip around the sky in predictable, but more dramatic, patterns. They’re also impossibly beautiful and pristine otherworlds, powerful testaments to the grandeur of nature. And humans might live there someday. Think about that. Someday, 966360the majestic desolation of Mars could have dog parks and McDonalds and registries of motor vehicles and smog.

But until you can drive through Olympus Mons for a spaceburger, learn about the planets with Dava Sobol’s The Planets, a journey through the solar system that doesn’t even require you to leave your chair. Sobol is also a fantastic writer who will keep you gazing at the page for as long as you’ll gaze at the planets.

The Past and Future of our Universe

Did you know that when you look at the stars, you’re looking into the past? It’s true! Light itself takes a long time to travel from the far-flung reaches of the universe, meaning that when it reaches your eyes it’s been on the road for long enough that it’s definitely run out of car games and music. (Our closest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is four years away if you’re traveling at the speed of light. We estimate that light from this star listens to Dizzy Up the Girl by the Goo Goo Dolls over 94 million times over the course of its trip to your 667725eyeball. Do not judge its musical tastes. It’s been out of the loop for a while.)

And if that blows your mind, think about this: when does that light ever stop? And what happens when it does?

The universe is a wild and wooly place, and a telescope is only the key to its box of wonders. Stephen Hawking is on hand to explain it to you in The Universe in a Nutshell, and if you want more of the crazy awesomeness that is reality, check out Simon Singh’s The Big Bang: the origin of the universe, too.

Aliens

Yes, aliens! Statistically speaking, they’re out there somewhere, but why the big hush? Where are our interstellar neighbors? Are we not forthcoming enough with the welcome 1220933cookies?

Maybe not. According to Paul Davies, chairman of the SETI Post-Detection Task Group, the lack of contact with alien life could mean any number of things. He lays it all out in his book, The Eerie Silence. In it, he does not suggest cookies. However, in my humble experience, a little thoughtfulness goes a long way. If you happen to see any interstellar visitors while gazing into the night sky, remember that. Aliens deserve a welcome wagon, too.

 

 

Contact the Nevins Memorial Library to reserve the telescope today!


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Dystopias, Police States, and Other Uplifting Tales

Ever find yourself or your society sliding inexorably backward toward a dystopian hellscape reminiscent of Europe’s Medieval Dark Ages? Ever feel like the forces arrayed on the horizon of liberty are gathering like the coming of a long and merciless storm? Ever nurse the simmering fear that you might rise one morning to find that you no longer draw free breath, say free words, think free thoughts?

Buddy, you’re too serious! What you need is a good old dose of catharsis. Try these gut-busters. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll have something to talk about during your mandatory annual loyalty test.

 

1984 by George Orwell449585

OK, you knew I was going to say it. You did. But seriously, have you actually read it?

Go do it. I’ll wait.

 

 

1488284Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

If your system isn’t good for people, change the people. It’s efficient! In a warped future America, mass-produced citizens inhabit pre-made social strata, kept there by brainwashing, genetic engineering, and physical reward. However, like all precision machines, a grain of sand in these works can initiate a total system breakdown. When an outsider penetrates the mechanics of this Brave New World, it will show itself to be anything but.

 

 

Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller, Jr.1047211.jpg

The end of the world has already come. Welcome to the post-post-apocalypse. Society is gone, replaced by a social system deathly afraid of the technology that caused the demise of civilization. But in one abbey, a group of dedicated monks preserve the writings of ancient pro-science sage Leibowitz, who may still, one day, become a saint.

 

 

1310034When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Hannah Payne is a criminal. It’s written on her skin, which has been genetically altered to show the world her crime: red, for the murder of her unborn baby. For the crime of abortion, she becomes simultaneously a pariah and the source of entertainment for a world both repelled by and deeply invested in sin. A modern revisioning of The Scarlet Letter!